And the Jeopardy answer is …

Let’s play Jeopardy!

Today is Alex Trebek’s 70th birthday, so in honor of the occasion I thought I would phrase today’s column as a series of Jeopardy answers with the final Jeopardy answer giving you an opportunity to win a free autographed copy of my book, Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs.”

Let’s play Jeopardy!

A: Their eight-game winning streak is the longest for the club since 2004.

A: Who are the St. Louis Cardinals?

These are good times for fans of the Cardinals but very uncomfortable times for the Phil Phollowers as the St. Louis Cardinals made it eight straight wins with a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia. Ryan Howard hit his 22nd homer for the Phillies, who have lost six of seven since the All-Star break. Winning pitcher, Jaime Garcia (9-4, 2.21) has now given up three or fewer earned runs in 18 of 19 starts this season.

St. Louis has beaten the Phils in three straight games by a 20-6 margin and will go for the sweep today. The Phillies scored one or fewer runs for the 23rd time this season.

A: Last night, they completed their first three-game sweep of the season

Q: Who are the Arizona Diamondbacks?

Pinch hitter Chris Snyder hit a one out, 14th inning walkoff single against Fernando Nieve of the Mets to score Justin Upton from second as the NL West last-place Diamondbacks completed their first three-game sweep of the season. The Mets are now 1-6 on their current road trip and head to Dodger Land for a four game set to finish off the trip and perhaps their season.

A: His nickname is “Little CC”

Q: Who is Colin Curtis?

The Yankees beat the Angels yesterday 10-6 in another game marked by poor starting pitching coming from Javier Vasquez (8-7) and Joel Piniero (10-7) following the All-Star break. But far the most interesting part of the game was the aftermath of Brett Gardner’s ejection.

Up to the plate stepped Colin Curtis, who Yankee manager refers to as “little CC,” distinguishing him from CC Sabathia, with an 0-2 count on him after Gardner’s first ejection. And, after working the count full, Curtis delivered with his first major league home run, a three-run shot the Yanks needed in order to defeat the Angels and split their two-game set. Yankee security retrieved the home run ball for Curtis from a fan who insisted upon a Derek Jeter/Alex Rodriguez autographed baseball, which Curtis shyly asked for. Reggie Jackson dropped off for Curtis the inscribed baseball celebrating the occasion.

Mark Teixeira had three hits and three RBI and Robinson Cano also homered. Teixeira has reached base safely in a career-best 37 consecutive games. Pineiro was 7-0 with a 2.51 ERA in his previous eight starts.

A: This is the latest Red Sox icon to go on the DL

Q: What is the Citgo sign?

The famous red, white and blue Citgo sign visible over Fenway Park’s Green Monster in left field is going dark for a couple of months for an extreme makeover. The Venezuelan oil company says 218,000 LED lights on the 3,600-square-foot sign will be replaced with more environmentally friendly and weather-resistant lights. The lights will also be covered with new acrylics that will make the sign’s colors more vibrant, and protect them from ultraviolet rays. The pulsating sequences will remain the same.

The work is scheduled to begin tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox better get to work today, as they dropped the decider of a three game set against the Athletics yesterday, 6-4. Matt Watson hit his first major league homer and Gio Gonzalez (9-6) pitched six innings for the win. Jack Cust also homered for Oakland who has won seven of eight to move above .500 for the first time since June 11.

Clay Buchholz (10-5) looked very rusty in his first start for Boston since injuring his left hamstring running the bases in San Francisco on June 26. Jed Lowrie made his 2010 debut after being sidelined since the spring with mononucleosis.

The Sox are 2-5 since the All-Star break and seven games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and 4.5 behind the Rays in the AL Wild Card slot.

Q: Who currently has a White Sox team-record streak of 25 consecutive scoreless appearances?

A: J.J. Putz

J.J. Putz did not pitch for the ChiSox last night, but I would not be at all surprised to see him taking over the closer spot from Bobby Jenks in the very near future as for the second time in four days, Jenks blew another Chicago win as Seattle walked-off to a 2-1, 11-inning win. Jenks (1-3) allowed four runs without getting an out in the 9th Sunday against the Twins

“All options are open now,” manager Ozzie Guillen said after the White Sox lost for the fourth time in six games. “I get paid to win games. … I put the guy in with the best shot.”

All this hubbub occurred because of a Franklin Gutierrez two-run walkoff single off Jenks gave the Mariners their fourth win in 18 games. They were the first runs Seattle had scored in 27 innings.

Seattle got eight innings of two-hit ball from Felix Hernandez. Gavin Floyd pitched seven innings of shutout ball for the Sox.

Q: They were the last team to have a pitcher throw a complete game this season.

A: Who are the Los Angeles Dodgers?

Perhaps it was Don Mattingly serving as skipper for the suspended Joe Torre, or perhaps it just was some solid pitching from Chad Billingsley, but the Dodgers finally have a complete game this season. Billingsley tossed a five-hitter as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 2-0 breaking a season-worst six-game losing streak. Billingsley (8-5) struck out three, walked two and threw 125 pitches to earn his second career shutout and third complete game. It was the Dodgers’ eighth shutout of the season.

The Dodgers won for the first time since the All-Star break as Casey Blake drove home both runs with a homer (#10) and a single. Barry Zito (8-5) gave up two runs and six hits in 7.1 for the Giants, who had won 12 of their previous 15 games.

Q: Since June 8, he leads the majors with 75 strikeouts

A: Who is Stephen Strasburg?

Stephen Strasburg (5-2) did his thing last night as the Nationals topped the Reds, 8-5, for just their third win their last 15 games on the road. It was not a good day for pitchers as the heat was sweltering and the All-Star break threw off their rhythm but Strasburg struck out seven and gave up three runs and seven hits in 5.1 innings to top Bronson Arroyo (10-5) who went 5.2 innings and allowed seven runs, six hits and three walks.

A: This Mgr. was an Mjr.

Q: Who was Ralph Houk?

Ralph Houk, a third-string catcher for the Yankees who went on to win three straight American League pennants and two World Series championships in his first seasons as their manager, was known as “the Major” after serving as an armored corps officer in World War II, winning the Silver Star.

Houk had a career record of 1,619-1,531 as a manager of the Yankees for 11 seasons, five years in Detroit, and four years as manager of the Boston Red Sox.

Houk died Wednesday at his home in Winter Haven, Fla. He was 90.

A: He scored on Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard round the world”

Q: Who was Clint Hartung?

Clint Hartung replaced Don Mueller as a pinch-runner at third base after Mueller hurt an ankle in a slide and scored ahead of Thompson in the famed 1951 playoff game.

Hartung had a career 29-29 pitching record for the NY Giants and a lifetime .238 batting average. Baseball genius Bill James created an award his honor in 2003: “Clint Hartung Award: Clint Hartung, a spring training phenom in 1947, was promoted as having superstar ability either as a pitcher or a hitter. He had a modest career, and his name has become synonymous with the over-hyped prospect who fails to live up to his clippings.”

Hartung died July 8 in Sinton, Tex. He was 87.

A: They are pitching today

Q: Who are:

AL

Blue Jays (Ricky Romero) at Tigers (Justin Verlander), 1:05

Twins (Carl Pavano) at Orioles (Kevin Millwood), 7:05

Royals (Bruce Chen) at Yankees (C.C. Sabathia), 7:05

Angels (Jered Weaver) at Rangers (Cliff Lee), 8:05

Red Sox (John Lackey) at Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith), 10:10

NL

Rockies (Jorge de la Rosa) at Marlins (Josh Johnson), 12:10

Nationals (Livan Hernandez) at Reds (Edinson Volquez), 12:35

Padres (Clayton Richard) at Braves (Tim Hudson), 1:05

Phillies (Cole Hamels) at Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 2:15

Brewers (Yovani Gallardo) at Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf), 7:05

Giants (Matt Cain) at Diamondbacks (Rodrigo Lopez), 9:40

Mets (Hisanori Takahashi) at Dodgers (Hiroki Kuroda), 10:10

Final Jeopardy answer

To be eligible to win a copy of my book, you must post the answer in the “Comments” section of Billy-Ball.com by Saturday, July 24, 2010 at Noon EST. There will be only one winner and that winner will be chosen at random from the correct guesses. You must be a Billy-Ball subscriber (that’s easy, just sign up on Billy-Ball.com).

Here you go, good luck contestants:

For nearly 30 years, California’s Catalina Island was the spring training camp for this non-California MLB team.